Weekly Political Roundup

FlagAnother big week:

  • President Obama “is under pressure to engage on a variety of gay issues that are coming to the fore” reports the New York Times. Perhaps obvious, but the article is a good summary of where things stand.
  • Lawyer Emma Ruby-Sachs looks at the two lesbians who are under consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court, but notes astutely, “We don’t need a diverse judge to win rights that protect diversity. We just need someone with a little integrity, patience and intelligence.”
  • Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which, among other things, would offer same-sex partners and children of Foreign Service officers the benefits routinely provided to opposite-sex spouses and children of officers serving abroad. It would also apply to Peace Corps employees serving as members of the Foreign Service.
  • Legislators in Anchorage, Alaska, will hear public comment on June 9 regarding an anti-discrimination gay rights ordinance.
  • The California State Senate passed a bill calling for a “day of special significance” in honor of slain civil rights leader Harvey Milk. It now goes to the Assembly.
  • The California Assembly passed a bill to increase and expand services to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic violence. It now goes to the Senate. (Insert image of pages passing in the hallway with the above two bills.)
  • A California appeals court upheld the murder convictions of two men for killing transgender teenager Gwen Araujo after learning she was biologically male.
  • Lt. Dan Choi isn’t the only gay West Point grad making headlines. Anthony Woods, who served two tours in Iraq and earned a bronze star before being kicked out under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, is running in a special election this fall in California’s 10th Congressional District. Woods also holds a graduate degree from Harvard.
  • The civil union bill under consideration by the Hawaiian Senate is dead for this year.
  • On May 17, Massachusetts celebrates the fifth anniversary of the first legal marriages of same-sex in the U.S. Lisa Keen at Bay Windows takes a look back and a look ahead.
  • Two new studies from UCLA’s Williams Institute show the effect marriage equality has had on Massachusetts. One found that it “likely [provided] a boost of over $100 million to the state economy.” The other, that it resulted in “an increase of younger, female, and more highly educated and skilled individuals in same-sex couples moving to the state.”
  • The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota, approved a policy to issue domestic partner registrations.
  • The Nevada Assembly Judiciary Committee voted for a bill to give same- and opposite-sex domestic partners many of the rights and benefits that Nevada offers to married couples. (Including, presumably, the option of having a ceremony conducted by an Elvis impersonator.)
  • New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said he would sign a marriage equality bill passed by the legislature if changes were made to ” provide additional protections to religious institutions. “This new language will . . . make clear that they cannot be forced to act in ways that violate their deeply held religious principles.” Silly me. I thought the whole separation of church and state thing was, like, built into the federal constitution. Then again, if it gets the bill passed, I won’t argue too much.
  • The New York State Assembly passed a marriage equality bill, the second time it has done so. The governor has said he will sign; the outcome in the Senate, however, is uncertain.
  • Pennsylvania state employees (and retirees) can now get the same medical benefits for either same-sex partners or opposite-sex spouses, announced the two non-governmental agencies overseeing the state benefits programs.
  • The House Judiciary Committee of Rhode Island, the lone holdout among New England states, held hearings on a marriage equality bill. The usual contentious debates.
  • Tennessee has invalidated the 18-month marriage of a transgender woman and a man, saying the state considers them both men.
  • The Washington, D.C. Council approved a bill to recognize marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere. Congress must now approve it.
  • A conservative group in Washington has filed a referendum similar to Prop. 8, in order to overturn the state’s domestic-partnership law. They need more than 120,500 valid voter signatures by July 25 for the measure to go on November’s ballot.
  • The Wisconsin State Supreme Court announced it will review the case challenging the legality of the state constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions of same-sex couples.

Around the world:

  • The French National Assembly followed the Senate in passing a bill to recognize any legal foreign same-sex marriages/unions/partnerships as a PACS (Pacte civil de solidarité). President Sarkozy must either “promulgate” the bill into law or return it to the Assembly for “further consideration.”
  • A Greek court annulled the marriages of two same-sex couples performed last year on the island of Rhodes, saying that the law did not permit them.
  • The Times of India has a nice article about same-sex couples in that country and the weddings/relationship ceremonies they have.
  • The Council of Ministers of the States of Jersey (not to be confused with the U.S. state of New Jersey) has agreed to debate civil partnerships in the House later this year.
  • Peru’s Interior Minister, Mercedes Cabanillas, has instituted a measure to ban police officers who have sexual relations with someone of the same gender. It is part of a new set of rules ostensibly designed to improve the force’s image, and which also ban officers who have extra-marital relations.
  • A Russian lesbian couple was denied a marriage license by a registry office in central Moscow, just days before a gay pride parade that has been banned by the government.
  • Uruguay will allow gay people to join the country’s armed forces.